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Lakers vs. Raptors Preview: Déjà Vu

The Lakers move onto game two of four of their road trip, traveling to Canada to take on the Toronto Raptors who very recently beat the purple-and-gold.

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Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

I’m sure some, if not most of the people reading this thought “It can’t get worse than this” after the Los Angeles Lakers’ most recent game against the Toronto Raptors.

In that contest — which happened only three days ago at the time of this article getting published — the Lakers fell behind 30-6 to start. As they’ve done many times this season when down by a lot of points early on, the Lakers made a small comeback in the fourth quarter to make it a 114-103 final. With the game coming just one day after the butt-whooping the Suns gave the Lakers, optimists could be forgiven for thinking a little rest could have gotten the team ready for their four-game road trip coming up.

Instead, Patrick Beverley, Karl Anthony-Towns, and the rest of the Timberwolves had a fun night punking the Lakers in a 124-104 victory. In even worse news, the Lakers continue their road trip on Friday night, facing the Raptors again for the second time in five days, this time on the road.

Here’s our preview of that game.

“This seems familiar...”

As if the multiple games in one week against the Raptors wasn’t enough, if you follow the Lakers closely, it feels like you’re watching an endless loop.

The team falls behind by a lot in the first quarter. They sulk, don’t get back on defense, and miss a bunch of shots. The other team lets their foot off the gas after beating up on the Lakers for three frames, the Lakers get back into it, and then the opponent finally buries them.

Rinse, and repeat.

The only instances in which that hasn’t happened lately is when the Lakers play one of the true championship contenders of the NBA and get killed from buzzer-to-buzzer (Suns) or LeBron James scores 50 or more points (games against Warriors and Wizards).

There’s obviously no possible roster fix coming to the Lakers, aside from the possible return of Anthony Davis eventually, but simply hitting their shots against the Raptors could help. I know, I’m a real basketball mastermind to say that.

But seriously, in the two games, the Lakers are tied for the 3rd-most wide-open (defender 6+ feet away) 3-point attempts. They’re not converting those attempts at all, having the 2nd-worst field-goal percentage on those shots in their last two games. That drastic disparity between the volume of attempts and their ability to convert can be traced to recent slumps from Carmelo Anthony (4/16 on 3-pointers in past two games) and Malik Monk (3/13).

Sadly, even if the Lakers convert more 3-pointers on Friday in Toronto, that still might not be enough. That’s due to the fact that the Raptors’ roster couldn’t be more of a mismatch for the purple-and-gold. They’re full of high-motor, lengthy forwards such as Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes with a point guard who can score from all over in Fred VanVleet. Needless to say, the Lakers don’t have much to counter that with.

So it seems as if the Lakers are on their way towards multiple instances of negative déjà vu. The most obvious instance would be the second loss in one week to the Raptors. And if the Lakers do indeed lose on the road, that would also serve as another all-too-familiar feeling, as they have 11 straight road losses.

Maybe the Lakers will shock us by knocking down their 3-pointers to break that putrid streak. But looking at the repeating cycle they currently find themselves in... I wouldn’t bet on it.

Notes and Updates

  • Speaking of betting, you can find the latest DraftKings odds for this game here. At the time of this getting published, the Lakers are 8.5 point underdogs which is... certainly deserved.
  • LeBron James (left knee soreness/effusion) and Talen Horton-Tucker (grade 2 left ankle sprain) will be questionable. THT was also questionable in the last game while still playing before eventually exiting after a re-aggravation, while LeBron has been playing through questionable designations for a while now.
  • Anthony Davis and Kendrick Nunn will remain out.
  • The Raptors will be without OG Anunoby (finger) and Malachi Flynn (hamstring strain).
  • Around the league, the Mavericks’ Spencer Dinwiddie got to serve up a little revenge to his former team, the Brooklyn Nets, hitting a game-winning 3-pointer on their home court during Wednesday’s game.

This game will be an early one for anyone on the west coast, as the Lakers and Raptors will tip-off at 4:30 p.m. PST. The game will be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation. And for more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Donny on Twitter at @donny_mchenry.

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